The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: DreamWorks - 2008
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 102 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Starring: Ricky Gervais, Tea Leoni, Greg Kinnear, Billy Campbell, Kristin Wiig, Dana Ivey, Alan Ruck
Directed by: David Koepp
Music by: Geoff Zanelli
Written by: David Koepp & John Kamps
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: December 28, 2008
"He sees dead people…and they annoy him"
A spirited romantic comedy, Ghost Town is the story of Bertram Pincus (Ricky Gervais), a cranky Manhattan dentist who develops the unwelcome ability to see dead people. Really annoying dead people. But, when a smooth-talking ghost (Greg Kinnear) traps Bertram into a romantic scheme involving his widow Gwen (Tea Leoni), they are entangled in a hilarious predicament between the now and the hereafter!
I had seen the trailer for Ghost town earlier this year and quite frankly it looked uninteresting despite the presence of Greg Kinnear and Tea Leoni, two actors that I like. Going into this I was not familiar with Ricky Gervais but his style of humor isn’t unlike other British comedic actors. I have to admit that I liked this movie more than I thought I would. Gervais plays Dr. Bertram Pincus DDS who is a misanthropic and grumpy loner whose sarcastic demeanor hasn’t won over anyone who has come into contact with him. He goes into the hospital for a colonoscopy and emerges (after a medical mishap) with the ability to see/hear ghosts. Initially he has no idea that the people he is seeing walking around are in fact dead but it quickly dawns upon him after he meets up with one in particular. This ghost is named Frank (Kinnear) and he along with the rest of them seem to want something from Dr. Pincus and they won’t give him a minutes peace until they get it. In Frank’s case he wants Dr. Pincus to contact his wife Gwen (Leoni) and interfere with her engagement to Richard (Campbell) who Frank has deemed to be all wrong for her. Dr. Pincus reluctantly goes along with it and after meeting Gwen finds that she awakens something in him that he had not felt in a long time.
Initially the film had more of a one dimensional feel that seemed to be geared solely toward the wise cracking and sarcastic retorts from Ricky Gervais. While some were pretty funny, I think that it would have grown old very quickly had things not changed up. What I liked was that the sharp comedic edge was toned down and Dr. Pincus began to transition from his grumpy less affected self into someone who could be empathetic and possibly have feelings of romance. He became a much more interesting character and I thought Gervais was good in the part. Greg Kinnear didn’t really have the opportunity to show off his acting chops in this role but he was fine as Frank. Tea Leoni isn’t the most glamorous actress in Hollywood but there is something about her that I find captivating and I thought that she was a good fit here. The supporting players consisted of a bunch of bit parts, by a few well known character actors, but they all brought something special to the story which I found appealing. This certainly isn’t the best or most original romantic comedy I have seen but I think it has something to offer and I didn‘t feel like I wasted my time when it was over.
Some strong language, sexual humor, and drug references.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Ghost Town comes to Blu-ray Disc from Paramount/DreamWorks featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 32 mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel audio that has an average bitrate of 3 mbps.
This is a pleasing high definition video presentation that is consistent with the type that we have come to expect from newer release titles on Blu-ray Disc. The 1.85:1 framed transfer exhibited an appreciable level of detail that allowed the intricacies inherent within the video to be noticeable. This pertained more so to clothing, backgrounds and objects rather than the facial makeup of the cast. I thought that the subtle complexional texture that should have been visible in the actors faces was less apparent. I wouldn’t describe them as soft but to me it was certainly noticeable. Blacks were rich and punchy while exhibiting a small amount of black crush. I didn’t see this as a big issue as they looked great while onscreen with mixed content. Colors were naturally depicted while sticking to the use of more neutral than overly bright tones. Contrast was elevated which gave bright segments a dynamic appearance that occasionally washed out detail but I didn’t feel that it infringed upon fidelity. Lossless audio is probably overkill on a soundtrack such as this due to its dialogue heavy presentation but I certainly don’t want complain about Paramount’s support of high resolution sound on all of their Blu-ray Disc releases. Dialogue was crystalline throughout and featured superlative texture, definitive intonation and excellent room penetration. Dynamic range was limited by the recording’s elements but I had no trouble discerning the presence of minute detail. The presentation remained in the front three channels for the majority of the film but I never felt that it needed to be handled otherwise as it sounded fine. The surround channels were used primarily for ambient background filler with a few discrete panning effects mixed in and there was no deep bass present at the LFE channel.
- Commentary by Director David Koepp and Ricky Gervais
- (HD) Making Ghost Town - 22 minute featurette
- (HD Ghostly effects - 2 minute segment - No narration/commentary just visuals set to music
- (HD) Some people can do it - Outtakes/gag reel
Ghost Town is a film that probably sits at the middle of the pack in its genre. I found that I liked it more than I thought I would after judging it based upon the trailer. It has its moments and throws in some likeable characters along with a formulaic but decent script. Paramount brings it to Blu-ray Disc featuring solid audio/video along with a set of lackluster bonus features that I found less than comprehensive. This isn’t a must own but if your in the mood for a romantic comedy give it a rent.
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